Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Community Warning Systems - Balancing Technology and Reliability

Next Tuesday I will talking on "Community Warning Systems - Balancing Technology and Reliability" at the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials Australia 2009 Conference in Sydney. The conference topics have been changed at short notice to address some early lessons learnt from the recent and ongoing Victorian bushfires. I was asked today to speak. So my presentation has been prepared in the last three hours. Comments, corrections and suggested additions are welcome:
The Internet and web have a useful role in emergency communications, provided the use is planned. However, VOIP communications and the Government's National Boradband Network will may make Australia more vulnerable, unless the system is built to a higher standard. The an ad-hoc arrangement of state based telephone-based emergency warning systems is no substitute for a nationally coordinated system. Digital technologies such as Cell Broadcast provide a better alternative. Emergency officials need to listen to what the ICT professionals tell them is possible and not just try and build digital versions of old analog and teletype systems. Both professions need to take the public into their confidence and treat the community as partners, not as victims. Current warning formats, such as used by Tsunami Warning Centers, do not make good use of Internet technology and there is the potential for Social Networking to be used for emergencies

Summary from "Community Warning Systems - Balancing Technology and Reliability", Tom Worthington, For the APCO Australasia Annual Conference, Australian Technology Park, Sydney, 10am, 3 March 2009

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